Picks and Pans Review: The Globe

UPDATED 09/16/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/16/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

Big Audio Dynamite II

Summer 1991 may be remembered as the time when Americans debated an urgent issue: Which is better, The Terminator or Terminator 2? So, for the record, let it be known that a few freethinkers have turned their thoughts to other crucial topics, such as: Which is better, Big Audio Dynamite or Big Audio Dynamite II?

Like so many quandaries in American history, this one comes to us via London, England, home of Mick Jones, the scruffy-voiced rocker formerly of the Clash.

After financial squabbles led him to quit the Clash in 1983, Jones created the first Big Audio Dynamite (BAD) an innovative group that mixed rock with an urban dance beat and electronic effects. Two years ago, the old Dynamite exploded—musical disharmony was the explanation. Jones soon formed BAD II with three new cohorts, including Chris Kavanagh, once a drummer for Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

Though the first BAD was darn good, the new BAD II is better. The group revives the Clash's joyful energy and sneaks far-out experiments into its mass-appeal pop music.

Manipulating a variety of sound bytes—a snippet of keyboard from a Who song, a yelp from a Clash song—they add fresh snap to typical dance rhythms. Jones's timing holds each song together, even when the beat disintegrates into an esoteric taped discussion or an odd electric flourish.

Now in his mid-30s, Jones has shifted his focus from youthful rebellion to a more mature restlessness. He glances backward wistfully in "Rush," for instance, confessing that his life's driving force has been a need for constant change. Whereas old Clash songs called for political action, Jones keeps his social comment vague now and is more tolerant of escapist pop music.

Ah-nold from Austria may have bigger biceps, but the mastermind of BAD II outmuscles Schwarzenegger in the battle to make a better sequel. (Columbia)

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